Since the announcement of new US tariffs shippers of all commodities have been concerned about which products would feel the pinch first. As cherry exports from the Northwest US are 28% of the total export volumes at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, these tariffs threaten a large segment of business and the jobs/ support that follow alongside such a robust industry. However, all is not sour in the cherry market as exports remain robust, despite being 15% below last year’s exceptional crop.
According to Fresh Fruit Portal, ”More than half of the US$226 million in U.S. fresh fruit exports to mainland China last year came from cherries, having grown more than four-fold since 2013. But this phenomenal growth rate is now under pressure with sweet cherries set to be collateral damage in a sour trade dispute. Slogged with a new 15% tariff on top of existing import duties and VAT, growers and exporters express their concerns to Fresh Fruit Portal.”
China, thankfully, isn’t the only market that desires cherries as we saw cherry exports to Korea and South America increase tremendously to help offset any reduction in exports. As exports to China fall, these other markets provide demand to maintain cherry prices considering the 2018 total crop of 24 million boxes is expected to be only 10% the size of 2017’s record setting harvest of 264 million boxes.
This stability in pricing is not unlike a perfect storm of factors as early June saw some wild fluctuations, worry growers and sellers as prices were at one time almost 23% less than 2017. Pricing has caught up to 2017 levels and demand isn’t falling off.
CFI is committed and deeply involved with the cherry industry and this isn’t our first discussion of this commodity. We talked at length about how cherries are exported last year and will maintain a close watch on this industry to bring our suppliers the best and most up to date information we have as it becomes available.